Today was the historic 1st ever XC race
held on single track at the Carvin's Cove. This race and yesterday's offroad hillclimb
were part of the Coventry Commonwealth Games of Virginia
at the hillclimb I got 3rd in Vet Sport. The organizers did a really cool thing and created an Omnium
category which was your combined time of the hillclimb and the XC race and you had to use the same bike for both.
Admittedly, after the hillclimb my confidence for the XC was a little low. The legs didn't seem to roll as well as I'd hoped and were really sore that night. I'd given up 5 minutes to the first place guy and 1 minute to second place. When I got to the XC race I found out that first place in the Vet sport from the hillclimb wasn't racing. Yesterday was his first ever mountain bike race. He did it on a borrowed bike!
During my warmup I scouted the first section of single track, Some short steep grunts, fun sweeping single track. And I started to feel better about today and realized that my training has been very specific to XC racing lately, NOT hillclimbs. So lots of hard efforts followed by max sustainable pace. Which is exactly what a lot of the race was going to be.
The turnout was fairly small and they started everybody together. We had a vehicle escort down the road and the hum of knobbies was loud. As soon as we hit the gravel road it was on. I just stayed close to the front as best I could as small rocks were shot out of the from other riders ricocheting off my bike. The experts led it out and they seemed to be taking it really easy I think because their course was significantly longer than ours. Brian Lang was in front of me and his gears started skipping something fierce. Then his chain breaks and wraps around his stay. He was still pedaling furiously and I was yelling, CHAIN, CHAIN. I was half expecting it to whip up and hit me in the face.
We turned one the single track and it was a tough call how hard to go. I had confidence that I could gut out the steep grunts and recover across the top. This track was a horseshoe loop that took us back to the gravel road then we headed up the 1000' fire road climb.
This is one of those climbs that can suck you into going harder than you want to. It is so tempting to take off or try to stick with a group. I knew that it would haunt me later if I tried that so opted for damage control and rode steady. Part way up the 2nd place rider from yesterday's hillclimb, Chip
and his buddy Aaron came up on me. Now it was a dilemma. I HAD to stick with Chip AND beat him in order to go for the omnium. Yet going to hard risked cramping later on. No choice, it's a race after all, and as soon as he passed I sucked onto his wheel. Inches away trying to hold on.
This road goes up and up and switchback after switchback and I wasn't sure where the turnoff for the singletrack downhill was. I wanted to get ahead of Chip before that if possible. He seemed to slow a little and I grabbed a gear and slowly moved forward and just kept steady fearing to look back to see him latching onto MY wheel. By the time the turnoff came I'd gapped him a little.
The downhill was awesome. Side trail, switchbacks, loose, steep. Actually I felt a little sketchy all day which means I need to go practice my skills with the cones. At the bottom it turns into some steep grunts combined with power singletrack. Props go to Bicycle Soup Warren
who motored up the climb in his singlespeed. I had him in sight on some of the grunts at the bottom but once he got on top of the gear on the power track he was gone, like 7 minutes gone.
At this point I was just trying to hold it together. Keeping it steady keeping the songs going through the head. Taking a conservative on the downhills, and pushing a steady gear on the climbs. We finally dumped out back on the gravel road and it was back up the fire road climb to the turnoff for the new connector.
Brand new trail. Very well done. Smooth as can be. And it went on and on. I hadn't seen Chip the few times I risked looking back down the trail. I started to have thoughts of grandeur of winning the omnium. I had no idea if there were any other vet sports ahead of me either. Every time these thoughts came into my head, I tried to purge them and get back to focusing on the moment. Any one of a hundred things could happen to shut everything down and the race isn't over until it is over.
Where was the turn off for the last stretch? Finally the finish was in sight.
Surprisingly, I felt pretty good at the end. Not like the walking dead. And notice everyone.....No cramp stories.... Not sure if it is the training or these
but not even a twinge today.
No idea what the results were until they called the awards.
1'st place Men's Vet Sport=Gold Medal
and 1'st place in the Omnium
It was really cool to do the Omnium. To come back from a deficit and move ahead over the XC course, just like a real stage race.
The prize for the Omnium is wicked cool. A laser etched cog made by Endless Bikes
the promoter was up late making the cogs into medals.
*notice the laser etched East Coasters
Special thanks go to Ron and Roanoke Cycling
for putting on such a wonderful event. It is really special to have races near enough that I can drive to in a few hours. The only thing they need to improve on is course markings as there were a few off shoot trails that needed some wrong way X's.
Special thanks to my wife for watching the kids all weekend and to my kids for being so excited for me. They were beside themselves when I showed them the medals.
It's funny. I've wanted one of these Common Wealth games medals for years and years. And was pretty bummed when I went off course (like to the moon off course) at last year's time trial
. On one hand they sort of give the medals out like candy and with so many events and age/skill categories. But on the other hand these are the State games and it's a big deal... to me anyway. I don't know why more people didn't come out for this especially with so few races in the area. Hopefully the word will get out for next year.